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In memory of Mel

Roger Charles, executive director of the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, sits on the centre’s grounds with a tent behind him where the new Mel Couvelier Pavilion will be built. - Don Denton/News staff
Roger Charles, executive director of the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, sits on the centre’s grounds with a tent behind him where the new Mel Couvelier Pavilion will be built.
— image credit: Don Denton/News staff

It’s been a turbulent year for Glendale Gardens and one directors of the horticultural centre would like to see turn around through plans to expand and honour one of its founders.

Last week, Glendale Gardens and Woodland (also known as the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific) announced details of their proposed Couvelier Pavilion, a multi-purpose building aimed at replacing the two buildings destroyed by fire in February. Named in honour of former Saanich mayor and Glendale Gardens devotee Mel Couvelier, the pavilion will bear the same footprint as the previous buildings. It will replace a glass house rented out for summer weddings. It will also allow the educational facility to grow – a long-time goal for Couvelier, who died May 30.

“Literally, up to the week he passed away, he was very much engaged in getting this campaign off the ground, so we owe it to him,” said Glendale Gardens executive director Roger Charles. “We owe it to him philosophically, we owe it to him emotionally and we owe it to him as a legacy to his family.”

Plans for the Couvelier Pavilion, designed by architect Christine Lintott, include a green roof and glass room for weddings -- something Glendale Gardens relies on for revenue. There will also be space to host horticultural students or corporate events. The intent is to maintain the post-industrial look of the former building.

“It’s unfortunate they had the fire, but with the fire, the plans have been adapted to focus on the best use of the land,” said Saanich Coun. Vicki Sanders. “It’s a good idea because it’s an opportunity to improve the educational facility and an opportunity to expand their purpose for education and the use of the gardens.”

Glendale Gardens received a $250,000-interest-free loan from Saanich following the fire. That money is in addition to an annual $130,000 municipal grant.

The project comes with a budgeted $2-million price tag – $.5 million of which is already secured, Charles said. With the centre’s potential to borrow another $500,000, they still need to raise as much as $1.5 million to see Couvelier’s dream come to fruition.

“Without his support, his drive … what exists here today, just would not happen, literally,” Charles said. “(Couvelier) was the driver behind the campaign long before the fire.”

Charles hopes to be ready for construction in the fall and complete the building by the start of the spring wedding season. Fundraising details for the Couvelier Pavilion campaign will be announced June 21 at the centre. Donations in memory and in honour of Couvelier can be made by phone at 250-479-6162 or in person at 505 Quayle Rd.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

By the numbers

• 200: Volunteers working for the non-profit organization

• 100: Dollars paid annually by The Horticultural Centre of the Pacific to lease the land from the province.

• 28: Weddings hosted last year

• 22: Couples who booked weddings this year, using a temporary tent set up at the gardens

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